Beat Generation superstar Jack Kerouac’s multimillion-dollar estate has always been a nightmare. But in recent years controversies about forged wills and family infighting were all handled by Kerouac’s brother-in-law, John Sampas, whose sister Stella was Kerouac’s widow.
There were no other heirs after Kerouac’s mother died in 1973, Stella died in 1990, and Kerouac’s only child, daughter Jan, died in 1996. Once Stella died, John Sampas became the representative of the Sampas siblings, handling the rights and reproductions of 27 posthumously published works. On his own, Sampas owned the right to several books including “Visions of Cody,” and part ownership of “On the Road” and “Dharma Bums.”
Since Sampas' passing in 2017, his adopted son John Shen-Sampas of Greenwich, CT has served as the estate's chief literary executor.
We recently caught up with John to gain a little more insider insight into his partnership with University Archives, and to get his thoughts about our current Kerouac offerings.
"I inherited the estate from my step-father in 2017. I heard many stories about Jack and read through a lot of his books and got to talk to many people who knew Jack and loved him. Kerouac was an amazing writer and his work changed a lot of people's lives.
I met John [Reznikoff, founder of University Archives] and really connected with him, not just on a professional level, but also on a personal level. John is very trustworthy and cares about his clients. I really feel that he will take good care of me and the business.
The typewriter [offered at auction in February 2020] is one of my favorites. As a writer, Jack really cared about his typewriter. He kept meticulous notes about it. His Rolex watch [offered at auction in June 2020] definitely exceeded my expectations [at auction]. The porcelain buddha [to be offered in September 2020] is particularly important in the collection, since Jack had it for many years for spiritual reasons."
Jack Kerouac's own typewriter from his estate used to write his very last book! Sold in our February 26, 2020 auction for $19,200 (including buyer’s premium). View All Our Past Jack Kerouac Estate Sales
You can explore 24 Kerouac lots in our current August auction. Bidding is now open, and the live auction begins next Wednesday, August 19th at 10:30 AM EST.
(The porcelain buddha referenced above is part of our upcoming September auction.)